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Why 7-Eleven (with gas pumps) thanks heaven for Manteca as does Southland’s competition
Highway 9i9
The afternoon commute on Highway 99 is shown heading south through Ripon toward Modesto.

The hot spot in Manteca on a Saturday afternoon?

It’s not outdoor dining under a stately oak tree outside of a downtown Pleasanton restaurant where they serve over priced burritos at nearly $20 a pop.

Nor is it a cozy bistro in downtown Livermore.

It’s Costco.

And you don’t even have to be a member to grasp that.

Near the Airport Way and 120 Bypass interchange between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday you’ll see:

*Traffic using the northbound exit from the westbound 120 Bypass backed up 10 cars or so into the freeway auxiliary lane.

*Northbound traffic on Airport Way backed up from Daniels Street to south of Atherton Drive.

This is not an indictment of Manteca.

It is a reflection of reality.

Yes, Costco stores are traffic magnets in other cities.

But the big difference is what goes on Monday through Friday on the 120 Bypass where Costco bound traffic turns the freeway auxiliary lane into a rolling parking lot.

The 120 Bypass is the eastern end of the nation’s biggest population of super commuters.

They’re the ones chasing paychecks to support their families by driving 90 minutes or more in one direction to reach a job.

That’s three hours plus a day.

The Bay Area — or more precisely the outer suburbs  as in the Northern San Joaquin Valley — for years has been part of the top three regions in the country for super commutes. The others are Los Angeles and New York.

But it wasn’t until the last decade that the metro areas of Stockton (including Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Tracy, and Mountain House) and Modesto (including Ceres and Turlock) broke away from the pack of other outer suburbs of major cities to become the undisputed king of the road when it comes to super commuter growth.

Nowhere in the nation are there metro areas with a higher percentage of super commuters in the workforce than Stockton-Modesto.

Those driving 3 plus hours a day to and from work now represent 11.7 percent of the workforce in the Stockton metro area and 9.6 percent in the Modesto metro area.


Not surprisingly the No. 1 and No. 3 metro areas in the nation when it comes to the increase in the ranks of super commuters during the past decade were Stockton at 25 percent and Modesto at 20 percent.

It is also  not a surprise that the biggest chunk of super commuters in the region are concentrated in Mountain House, Tracy, Manteca, and Lathrop.

Among those four communities the toughest place to live in terms of time behind the wheel is in Manteca.

Lathrop is nright next door to Manteca but 20 minutes a day commuting is another 20 minutes a day.

And as opposed to Tracy, the extra 15 minute one-way drive from Manteca to Tracy under normal driving conditions can turn into 45 plus more minutes each work day between the two cities depending upon how you hit the commute.

That assumes, of course, there are no traffic accidents or someone pulled over on the side of the road changing a flat tire.

Once you understand that, you will have answers to the questions that keep being asked over and over again.

*1. Why doesn’t Manteca have more sit down dining spots that aren’t chain restaurants and such an abundance of fast food and casual dining?

The answer is simple. With nearly 60 percent of the city’s population commuting and a large chunk of that falling into the definition of super commuters, there isn’t a lot of time for sit down weeknight dining.

Changes in the workplace over the years also has severely limited lunch times meaning sit-down restaurants get an even shorter end of the stick in a town populated heavily by commuters.

Given weekday trade as a rule of thumb pays the bills and weekend business is the gravy or profit period, Manteca poses an extra challenge even though we are zeroing in on 90,000 people.

The fast food and causal dining places work here because they are strongly supported by the market.

That doesn’t mean the market isn’t evolving. It is.

Manteca will come into its own — think downtown — which means it will be more dynamic in terms of dining and other shopping/entertainment choices and not simply a Pleasanton Lite or Livermore lite.

The upscale event center downtown along with the work on a comedy club and a brewery that are targeting openings later this year is an indication that it is starting to happen.

*2. Why does Manteca keep getting more gas stations, convenience stores, and  car washes?

Within the next 2 years based on what is under construction or in the permit process, Manteca could add 8 more convenience stores, 8 more places to buy gas, 4 more car washes and another fast food option.

When added to what is already in place, it would give Manteca:

*38 convenience stores including two old-fashioned neighborhood markets near South Park and at Austin Road and East Yosemite Avenue.

*34 locations to pump gasoline.

*20 car washes.

*19 free-standing fast food places. The count excludes Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Dutch Bros., Subways, other chain delis, and such. If those were added the count for fast-food would reach 34. Also, of the approved drive-thru Pinkberry Yogurt at Fremont and Yosemite is added to the county it would be 35.

 Manteca commuters are frequent visitors to gas stations. That even goes for those with high mileage commute cars. Fueling up two to three times a week is normal.

And given gas, for whatever reason, is cheaper here than in Tracy and significantly cheaper than in the Bay Area, people are going to fill up before they leave — or after they return — to Manteca.

It also explains the convenience stores which is where most sellers of gas make their profit.

As for the 20 car washes, if you spend 15 plus hours a week in your car getting to and from work you might have a tendency to want to keep it clean.

3. Why doesn’t Manteca have more shopping choices?

The people Jeff Bezos hired aren’t dummies. It is why the Northern San Joaquin Valley has one of the top three concentrations of fulfillment centers in the world.

Yes, it has a lot to do with its strategic location between the Bay Area and Sacramento markets.

But the reason a Prime distribution center for two hour delivery service is based in Manteca as well as the first testing ground for drone delivery is in Lockeford in eastern San Joaquin County has everything to do with the growth and heavy commuting in the region as well as its status as the promised land of super commuters.

Those are “prime” Amazon customers with not a lot of time on their hands.

This doesn’t mean more brick and mortar shopping opportunities aren’t coming Manteca’s way.

They are given the Manteca-Lathrop area’s history or growth and how the communities are positioned to keep growing.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at